The Mockingbird

Ryan’s Return

with 10 comments

Ok, I think it’s time to accept I might have a pitch f/x problem. While out and about, the very glimpse of SAVE – RYAN on the ticker of an ESPN channel evidently devoted 24/7 to Yankees/Sox highlights, and I started wondering out loud to La Senorita if B.J.’s velocity had completely returned. Fortunately, she responded that if I was just going to think about baseball all night, I may as well go back to the damn hotel right now. It’s good to have someone who understands what you do.

Anyway, here’s a quick look at what the Beej has at this point.

Velocity

His fastball is at 88-89. Still about three mph short of the 91-92 he normally sits at.

Movement

Those circles are the movement his pitches normally have. Incidentally- did you ever think of Ryan as having a killer cutter? Because that kind of rising/cutting (as opposed to Jesse Litsch’s that looks more like a slider) pitch is exceedingly rare- in fact, I can’t think of anyone other than Mariano Rivera who throws a pitch that moves like that. It would explain how he can get righties out, by cutting it in on their hands (just look at Accardo to see how ineffective a slider is when sliding in towards the batter).

Other than that, his fastball is there, but all over the place. He overthrew his first pitch of the game (no doubt incredibly geeked up) and it sailed and was clubbed for a triple. Then he got a grounder on an incredibly weak-ass slider, a pop up on a cutter, and a line out that landed in the mitt of Alex Rios.

Location

Beej has always been more of a control guy than a power closer, and here we see why. The first two outs he got with a man on third were on pitches that started as strikes and then dove in on the hands. Is there a better way to do it? The final pitch of the game was a bit of a meatball- I’m going to guess it was smashed right at Rios.

Anyway, this is way too much dissection of 10 pitches already, but it looks like B.J. is still finding his slider, but has enough of a fastball and cutter to saw bats off with his usual control. He’s not quite the guy he used to be, but then neither is Accardo…

Written by halejon

April 13, 2008 at 9:44 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Your dedication is inspiring. The Beej coming back is huge, though, so it’s understandable. Go Jays.

    Navin Vaswani

    April 13, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  2. Not knowing much about Tommy John surgery, is BJ’s velocity something we can expect to see return to his former levels?

    clint

    April 14, 2008 at 12:44 pm

  3. Most definitely. In fact, most pitchers report being able to throw harder after the surgery, although that’s actually because their arm was wearing down before it (and now they’re back to 100% where they probably haven’t been since college), and not due to the ligament being replaced by a stronger one from their leg or anything.

    A year and a half is when most pitchers return to 100% though- there was a study done that saw 85%+ of all TJ pitchers (that’s including the ones that the surgery was a disaster for) return to previous levels of WHIP/ERA/performance etc in 18 months. So while it’s pretty safe for Ryan to be out there, he’s probably going to be finding his feel and snap for at least the first half of the season.

    halejon

    April 14, 2008 at 1:00 pm

  4. I may be wrong, but I remember the leadoff triple being off his third pitch–with the count 0-2.

    Absolutely right about him being a control guy–and the kind of control guy who depends on his stuff ending up out of the strike zone, getting hitters to chase. I always suspect that guys like that won’t do well in games that are especially important to the other team, when the hitters are especially willing to change their approaches to suit particular pitchers. (I arrived at this suspicion by extension of the Candiotti Hypothesis (i.e., don’t trust knuckleballers in the playoffs).)

    Matthew King

    April 14, 2008 at 1:43 pm

  5. Thanks for the info.

    On another note I was just reading Blair’s newest blog post in which he mentions a source close to the team said Accardo’s split is “complete crap”. Which I think you’ve previously covered, a little more in depth but the same conclusion. Blair goes on to ponder whether it’s mechanical problems or something else. Not sure what he means by something else, wouldn’t it have to be mechanical if he’s having no problem with his other pitches?

    Who do you see gibbons using as his closer on days when BJ isn’t available? Downs maybe now that there is another lefty in the pen?

    Also what are you thoughts on Carlson, can he stick with the club, or is he relying on a funky delivery that will eventually be found out.

    Also here’s hoping League finds the strike zone again, it looks like he’s basically closing his eyes and hoping for strikes right now.

    clint

    April 14, 2008 at 1:43 pm

  6. The final pitch of the game was a bit of a meatball- I’m going to guess it was smashed right at Rios.

    He had to hustle a bit to get it, which made for an exciting end to the game. I fully expected a run to come in, and not anything against B.J. – he’s out there in a softball park on the moon in his first appearance since TJ surgery 11 months prior. (And Johnny Mac had been pinch-hit for earlier.) The more I think about it, he had the odds stacked pretty well against him and came through. Very fun to see.

    Ice Cream Jonsey

    April 14, 2008 at 4:25 pm

  7. Matthew:

    No, you’re totally right. First at bat, but not first pitch. Actually a pretty good pitch right on the corner, really (especially from a pitcher who has no offspeed stuff). Where did it go- deep gapper or right down the line?

    That’s an interesting idea- I guess it might be safer to have someone simply overpowering against all batters. But I’m always a little suspicious of how much hitters are really able to change their approach even if they know a pitcher is going to toy with them out of the zone. From personal experience, someone telling you that this guy is going to throw you a nasty pitch that looks like a strike and then dives off the plate as soon as you start to swing at it leads more to eye-rolling and “oh, THANKS” than any sort of useful adjustment. :)

    Not quite the same thing, but Beej’s clutch performance at Fangraphs is pretty neutral.

    halejon

    April 14, 2008 at 6:51 pm

  8. Clint:

    I guess it could also be his splitter grip, which I’m not sure counts as mechanics. I would wager it’s his release point (doh- forgot pitch f.x does that, too…) or something that is causing him not to get the same tilt.

    I think he was leaning towards Downs even before B.J. came back. If Accardo is dubious, they have zero faith in Frasor, and everyone else is too green to put that much faith in. None of the bullpen roles seem to be set in stone, though- Tallet has been 6th inning and the setup guy.

    I haven’t really seen or know enough about Carlson to give much of a useful opinion (and why the hell does rotoworld say that he could be a good lefty specialist?!), but his minor league numbers are encouraging at least for him being passable. He strikes out a lot of guys, just for some reason gives up a lot of hits as well. But K’s are always the building block for a major league career…

    League’ll be fine- he’s got that slinging motion and his stuff all the way back, it’s just a matter of him remembering how to use it after a lost year. I didn’t think he was THAT terrible in his time here- still a GB machine, just inconsistent and yeah, not so much control. But mostly the team just doesn’t really need another 6th guy in the pen and after another 20 innings or so he should retake his place as at least the 3rd-4th.

    halejon

    April 14, 2008 at 7:16 pm

  9. Jones:

    Tell me about it, I wish I’d seen his first time back. He must have been pumped coming off the mound after working out of that jam.

    I love to see that he didn’t have his stuff working and just plain executed to get the job done. I love Accardo’s pitches, but it always seems to be more just “try and hit it” low and away than a chess match when he’s out there. Can’t argue with results, but aesthetics!

    halejon

    April 14, 2008 at 7:21 pm

  10. I was listening on the radio; the triple was up a gap, but I don’t know which one or how well it was hit.

    I knew I had the regular season / postseason ERA splits for knuckleball pitchers somewhere; here they are, because they amuse me:

    Wakefield: 4.33 / 6.36
    Candiotti: 3.73 / 6.52
    Hough: 3.75 / 4.82
    P. Niekro: 3.35 / 3.86

    But: J. Niekro: 3.59 / 0.00, in 20 innings!

    (Hoyt Wilhelm only had 2.1 (scoreless) playoff innings, and Wilbur Wood never pitched in the playoffs.)

    But you’re probably right that there’s no obvious way to adjust to stuff like Ryan’s like there is (or at least like I think there is) to adjust to knuckleballs.

    Matthew King

    April 16, 2008 at 2:09 am


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